PORTLAND, Ore. – Police say a right-wing rally and counter-protests in Portland, Oregon, have largely dispersed without serious violence Saturday, though they are investigating an assault after one person who was documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the face.
Separately, police said a criminal citation was issued after officials confiscated firearms, paintball guns, baseball bats and shields from a pick-up truck that was initially stopped for having obscured license plates as it left the rally.
Several hundred people, dozens of them wearing militarized body armor, gathered to support President Donald Trump and his “law and order” reelection campaign Saturday afternoon. The attendance was far fewer than the 10,000 organizers had expected after tensions boiled over nationwide following the decision not to charge officers in Louisville, Kentucky, for killing Breonna Taylor.
Organized by the Proud Boys, a group that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the rally was described as a free speech event to support Trump and police and condemn anti-fascists, “domestic terrorism” and “violent gangs of rioting felons” in the streets.
Local and state elected officials forcefully condemned the event and rushed to shore up law enforcement ranks as left-wing groups organized several rallies to oppose the Proud Boys’ message. About 1,000 counter-protesters gathered at another park.
The events began at noon and were largely dispersed by 3 p.m. The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down the interstate highway for a brief time to help control the crowd and flow of traffic.
“The purpose of this closure was to clear some people out of the area who wanted to leave and to keep competing groups separate,” said Chris Liedle, a spokesman with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, in updates posted on Twitter, as the city had braced for the threat of violence with multiple rallies in the area.
Police also said they arrested three people, including a man suspected of driving under the influence and a woman for an outstanding arrest warrant, Liedle said.